Waiting for a First Kiss


Dear Expert,

I’m a junior in high school and I’ve never been kissed and it drives me insane because everyone I know has. Advice?

— Age 16

Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO as it is called these days) is a phenomenon that everyone experiences from time to time. But knowing that doesn’t make it any easier when it happens to you. It’s hard when your friends are having new and exciting experiences and you feel like you are on the outside. This is especially difficult when it comes to first romantic or sexual experiences.

But it’s important to ask why your lack of experience in this area is “driving you crazy” and I think I might have an idea. Unfortunately, most teenagers place a large measure of their self-confidence on how they are perceived and pursued by others. Interest in and curiosity about physical intimacy at this age is a normal, natural and healthy part of teenage development. However, teenage sexuality and sexual development takes on a harmful dimension when things like peer pressure, social media and the entertainment industry send strong messages that a person’s self worth is based on how attractive they are to others.

Additionally, the current trend of “hooking up” doesn’t take into account the emotional aspect of an actual relationship but instead keeps the focus on superficial things like physical attractiveness. As a result, when someone doesn’t feel sexually desired or experienced by a certain age, they often end up judging themselves. If this sounds like you, then stop, take a deep breathe and don’t let it drive you crazy! Instead be patient; don’t judge your self worth based on your lack of sexual experience or your perceived lack of desirability and stop comparing yourself to your friends. Instead, focus on all the things you like about yourself and all the things you love to do. Get out there and meet new people because someone out there is also waiting to meet you. And soon enough, that kiss will happen. A first kiss is actually a pretty special thing but it’s even better when you share it with someone you really care about. So remember, good things come to those who wait!

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Dr. Aly Mandel is a clinical psychologist who has been in practice for 20 years, with a focus in child and adolescent psychology. As a mother of five kids, she understands the workings of the teenage mind on both a professional and personal level. She believes that a sense of perspective and a sense of humor are indispensable tools in getting through this tumultuous time.